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His Rages Scare Me

by Tamara
(Hays, KS)

I have been in a relationship with a man for 2 years, and in that 2 years he has become like night and day. Most of the time he seems loving and attentive, but sometimes he starts yelling about small trivial things. And if I talk back he starts to rage.

He is also this way with his teenage sons. He drinks and smokes marijuana and I even tried to get him to quit but he says he doesn't see anything wrong with using. He has threatened to punch me in the face. He never has come right out and hit me. I just find myself very scared of his anger and I do whatever it takes to make sure he does not get angry. I don't talk back either.

Just wondering if you think things can change or will he just get worse?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Tamara, and thanks for asking for help on this site. Your story is a familiar one--take a look at this story and my response, just published yesterday. While your situation is similar to Jasmine's, it is also unique in some ways.

You are with an addict. And he is addicted to alcohol and marijuana both. It is absolutely impossible to have a meaningful, safe, loving relationship with someone who is addicted to and regularly using such mind-altering substances. And, of course as you know, that's not all--he is also abusive to you.

Verbal abuse does not always lead to physical abuse, but all physical abuse starts with verbal abuse. The most healthy and reasonable thing for you right now is to expect that you will be physically abused if you stay with this man. His use of chemicals, combined with his anger and threats of violence are your warning signs. I strongly suggest that you heed those warnings and remove yourself from this relationship as soon as possible.

If your partner was not an addict, I would still recommend that you do whatever is necessary to protect yourself from him.

And, although you don't realize it, you are feeding the problem by trying to "make sure he does not get angry." I totally understand why you do that--it's your way of preventing the anger and abuse. The problem with this strategy is this: When you do all of those things to soothe, please and placate him, he gets the impression that he is right and justified in his thoughts, feelings and reactions to you. Without meaning to, you're sending him the message that his anger is your fault. I really hope you can understand this, but even if you don't, just understand that you are not safe with this man.

You ask if "things can change." Yes, things will change, but not the way you want them to. As a counselor, I know that people can make positive changes when they choose to do so. I have helped men like your partner overcome their addictions and their anger, and become healthy men, husbands and fathers. But they have to want to change, and they have to be willing to spend the time, energy and money that it takes to make those changes. Your partner, for example, would have to:

1) Admit he has addiction and anger issues (which you have made clear that he has not done)
2) Seek and find help that he believes in that can really help him (there are a lot of programs and professionals out there who range from very good to not very good at all)
3) Make the lasting commitment to do the work, and hang in there when it gets really hard--which it would.

I think you get the picture. Your partner has not even begun to make the first step, much less the second and third.

It is apparent to me, Tamara, that you need to do some work on yourself. Start by doing the "Trauma Writing" on this page, starting with your childhood and all the way up to your present relationship with your partner.

You will not be able to do this while you're still in this relationship. As long as you stay with this man, you will be on constant alert for the next anger or abuse, and that will prevent you from doing any personal reflection or healing.

I hope this is helpful to you, Tamara. And I hope you take my recommendations seriously. Feel free to write again, or comment on this page if you like.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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